“A little-known FBI unit played an outsized role in allowing controversial claims by a former British MI6 spy about Donald Trump to reach the highest levels of the FBI and State Department.
The Eurasian Organized Crime unit, which was headed by Michael Gaeta at the time, specializes in investigating criminal groups from Georgia, Russia, and Ukraine.
Gaeta, an FBI agent and assistant legal attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Rome, has known the former spy, Christopher Steele—who authored the controversial dossier on then-candidate Donald Trump—since at least 2010, when Steele provided assistance in the FBI’s investigation into the FIFA corruption scandal, over concern that Russia might have been engaging in bribery to host the 2018 World Cup.
(…) Steele would complete his first memo on June 20, 2016, and send it to Fusion via enciphered mail.
It is at this point that Steele reportedly began to reconnect with his old FBI contacts from the Eurasian serious-crime division:
“In June, Steele flew to Rome to brief the FBI contact with whom he had cooperated over FIFA,” The Guardian reported. “His information started to reach the bureau in Washington.”
It’s not entirely clear if Steele met with the head of the Eurasian division, Gaeta, or another FBI agent. Either way, Steele met with Gaeta shortly thereafter in London.
The purpose of the London visit was clear. Steele was personally handing the first memo in his dossier to Gaeta for ultimate transmission back to the FBI and the State Department.
For this visit, the FBI sought permission from the office of Nuland, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs. Nuland, who had been the recipient of many of Steele’s reports, gave permission for the more formal meeting. On July 5, 2016, Gaeta traveled to London and met with Steele at the office’s of Steele’s firm, Orbis.
Nuland provided this version of events during a Feb. 4, 2018, appearance on Face the Nation:
“In the middle of July, when he [Steele] was doing this other work and became concerned, he passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding and our immediate reaction to that was, this is not in our purview. This needs to go to the FBI if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian Federation. That’s something for the FBI to investigate.”
In September 2016, Steel would travel back to Rome to meet with the FBI Eurasian squad once again. It’s likely that the meeting contained several other FBI officials as well:
“In September, Steele went back to Rome. There, he met with an FBI team. Their response was one of ‘shock and horror,’ Steele said,” according to The Guardian. “The bureau asked him to explain how he had compiled his reports, and to give background on his sources. It asked him to send future copies.”
According to a House Intelligence Committee minority memo, Steele’s reporting didn’t reach the FBI counterintelligence team until mid-September 2016—the same time as Steele’s September trip to Rome.
There’s one other central figure in the Trump–Russia investigation who had meaningful overlap with the FBI’s Eurasian squad: former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe:
“McCabe began his career as a special agent with the FBI in 1996,” the FBI states on its website. “He first reported to the New York division, where he investigated a variety of organized crime matters. In 2003, he became the supervisory special agent of the Eurasian Organized Crime Task Force.”
McCabe remained with the Eurasian squad until 2006, when he was moved to FBI headquarters in Washington.” (Read more: The Epoch Times, 9/29/2018)